Wifi Access at Local Resorts
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johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 17, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Has the Wifi revolution reached local ski resorts?

Which lodges, if any offer Wifi access? And if so, is it free or by a paid pass system similar to Starbucks? Is this something that lodges should provide for free to get more people to hang out in the lodges and buy soda, hot cocoa, and beer?

How many condo owners have broadband Internet access?

Would it make sense for unit owners to make Internet a common element? In otherwords, to have one router plus signal repeaters per building and bill the service to all unit owners?

Alternatively, does it make sense for some unit owners to create their own informal networks and share expenses between smaller groups of unit owners? These networks could be password encrypted to discourage freeloading.

Are there any similar threads on the other forums such as Epic? If so, please provide a link..
bawalker
July 17, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
I can confirm Whitetail does have WiFi access as well as it appears some floating over from the condo's nearby as well. While on this note, I think having WiFi for condo owners constrained to a locked down access passcode for owners/renters only is a very viable option. Being that I'm a network engineer by trade, it's quite possible that condo owners can get the needed hardware (special WiFi router, cable modem, etc) and have this in a locked and hidden place in condo's and sell WiFi access to renters. I live and do this every day so feel free to ask me any question at all about it. Heck I'll even set it up. :P
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 17, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Have you ever used signal repeaters? Do hotels like Courtyard Marriott use them to extend the range of a single wireless router? Could a condo development use repeaters to extend a single connection to 3 buildings?
bawalker
July 17, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Oh definately, it's very possible and very easy. They are known in other terms as WAP's or wireless access points. In simpliest terms, you could have build #1 have the cable/dsl connection with a wifi box. Then either through a hard line or through wireless signal, have a WAP in building #2 and #3. It does though depend on the placement of the wifi box's in the building and what type of wireless technology you are using a/b/g/pre-n, etc.

Each has a different max range and signal strength using different frequencies which could or couldn't pose issues for things such as cordless phones. Some places I've seen will connect WAP's and WiFi boxes with land lines to provide optimal speed to wireless users.
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Roy
July 18, 2005
Member since 01/11/2000
609 posts
Liberty got it last season. I'm not sure if it's a pay as you go connection or not.
snowcone
July 18, 2005
Member since 09/27/2002
589 posts
Whitetail has it too ... probably all of the Snow Time resorts. I used it last season at Whitetail with no problem. The only issue would be NOT to access any sites where you use a login/password or credit card info ... that would be mighty dangerous. There are all sorts of bad guys out there with sniffer software that would love to have your unencrypted personal bits, but for generic web surfing WiFi is just great. I believe T-Mobile [Starbucks et al] has some sort of encryption but I would be willing to bet that Whitetail/Liberty do not.

BTW ... it was free at Whitetail, I assume the same for Liberty. That was last season, who knows what the deal will be this season.
bawalker
July 18, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
snowcone is right, more than likely any place that has free WiFi or almost any WiFi, never use login information. In my experience almost all of the time, people who set these WiFi units up never ONCE actually encrypt them or make it secure. It's just a basic free for all and hackers sit on the fringes like roaches at the corner. Things like this make my job interesting when I have to fix mistakes of others.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 18, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
I think the consensus here is that local resorts should offer some sort of free Wifi access for visitors. I detest the idea of combining work with a ski trip, but for some people, it may mean the difference between a ski trip and no ski trip. Also, Wifi is another activity for the bored non-skier in the group. Finally, such access might make local journalists more likely to write stories about ski resorts.
bawalker
July 18, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
i agree. WiFi is now at the point that it's needed almost as much as what cell phones are to an extent. Probably not as much for business as definately recreational pleasure. My business's services are definately available to consult with any ski resort to sit down and develop a solid, secure, profesionall wireless network.
DWW
July 18, 2005
Member since 03/11/2004
144 posts
At Snowshoe, the Starbucks at Rimfire Lodge has wi-fi. The units at Rimfire Lodge have free high speed access. There are some issues at Snowshoe with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank that limits wi-fi use.
ubu
July 18, 2005
Member since 05/11/2005
40 posts
Quote:

While on this note, I think having WiFi for condo owners constrained to a locked down access passcode for owners/renters only is a very viable option.




That sounds like a great idea...how hard is this to set up? How is the $ transaction handled (and how much gets skimmed by the handler)?
therusty
July 18, 2005
Member since 01/17/2005
422 posts
Whitetail did not advertise it last year. They will this year. The central bar area in the Windows restaurant section will "officially" be a Starbucks/Smoothie area with WiFi access. (according to the employee newsletter)
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
July 19, 2005
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Quote:

Quote:

While on this note, I think having WiFi for condo owners constrained to a locked down access passcode for owners/renters only is a very viable option.




That sounds like a great idea...how hard is this to set up? How is the $ transaction handled (and how much gets skimmed by the handler)?




Set-up takes about 10 minutes. Costs could be divided evenly between users (unit owners who get a login code). Why should all unit owners pay $59 a month or more for broadband access when one access could service an entire building, maybe two?

Courtyard Marriot offers free access to guests. I wonder how many routers and repeaters it uses per hotel.
ubu
July 19, 2005
Member since 05/11/2005
40 posts
I'm just curious about how this could be set up for a single home, where a renter could decide to purchase a 1-day access to the wifi connection, just like at a hotel. What services are available to accept payment from the renter, and how is the use monitored?
bawalker
July 19, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Quote:

Quote:

While on this note, I think having WiFi for condo owners constrained to a locked down access passcode for owners/renters only is a very viable option.




That sounds like a great idea...how hard is this to set up? How is the $ transaction handled (and how much gets skimmed by the handler)?




This is actually not hard at all. Some newer 'consumer' grade routers, although expensive, are coming with features in their firmware to allow small businesses and shops to simply setup the WiFi ready to sell. It has built in credit card processing, PayPal processing, and so forth so that when someone tries to connect to that router, they are sent to a webpage inside the WiFi router asking them to pay (this is all configured by the owner obviously) whatever the set rate for set time is. The WiFi box takes whatever form of payment is setup, verifies it, and allows the people access with a certain passcode for each individual.

These routers cost around $300 although are well worth it for any sort of shop or business to manage WiFi and to actually earn a bit of revenue from it. This could be a viable option for those who rent out their units, or as John mentioned, just having a secured WiFi network for the unit owners to begin with without worry of outside leechers using it.
ubu
July 20, 2005
Member since 05/11/2005
40 posts
Quote:


This is actually not hard at all. Some newer 'consumer' grade routers, although expensive, are coming with features in their firmware to allow small businesses and shops to simply setup the WiFi ready to sell. It has built in credit card processing, PayPal processing, and so forth so that when someone tries to connect to that router, they are sent to a webpage inside the WiFi router asking them to pay (this is all configured by the owner obviously) whatever the set rate for set time is. The WiFi box takes whatever form of payment is setup, verifies it, and allows the people access with a certain passcode for each individual.





Veeeery interesting. Can you suggest a specific router with these capabilities?
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
July 20, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Snowshoe has, I believe, at Starbucks, same as most. Quite a few condo owners have networks for their guests, including myself, on an airport network. I have chosen to close it on a password to protect the bandwidth, however. I have both a network and a repeater that will allow the transmission literally on the other side od Summit...
bawalker
July 21, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satellite...FVisitorWrapper

- An Internet connection-sharing Router, Switch, and Access Point with built-in VPN endpoint capability and advanced security features
- Jump start your small business network by connecting both Wireless-G (802.11g) PCs, and local wired PCs
- Securely connect up to 50 remote or traveling users to your office network via VPN
"Hotspot Ready" with subscriber registration, authorization and authentication functions
schlittenfahrten
July 26, 2005
Member since 07/26/2005
24 posts
Stayed at a recently renov unit in Sumit at the Shoe, very nice, owner put in an Airport network and we used it even in the other buildings. It was a closed system but the password was in a binder for guests. My only comment was that the equipment was out in the open, someone could tamper with it.
Murphy
July 26, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004
618 posts
I'm surprised they allow Wi-fi at Snowshoe at all. The people operating that fancy radio telescope on the other side of the mountain don't like that kind of stuff. Apparently the signal from those routers is about a bazillion times stronger than aliens whispering to each other . A local told me he wasn't allowed to have it. I do know that there is a shielded area somewhere in the village that allows that sort of stuff. It's the only place I can get cell phone reception.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
July 26, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Hey schlittenfahrten, without being presumptuous, I believe you're talking about my Summit Condo unit... There are less than 10 owners with DSL at Summit and only two with wireless networks. I left the equipment outside because with the unreliable power fluctuations, I find I have to reset it about foure times a year. I have never had a problem with people tampering, taking or destroying stuff in my condo, and that includes signed art on the walls and pre-columbian artifacts. Not having the Snowshoe rental program managing my unit is probably a reason for good renters history.

I wish I could convince the HOA at Snowshoe to install a Wi-Fi for the entire condo. Although our owners are turning over rapidly and they are being a much younger and tech-savy crowd, I've been beating my head against a cynder-block wall on this issue, especially as I am a layman with only a working knowledge of networks... maybe bawalker could make some $$ and convince our Home Owners Association of the tremendous benefits of a Wi-Fi...

Appreciate the nice words about the condo, additionally, and I am amazed you get reception outside of the condo unit... one more reason to have a closed system. Else I'd be supplying the entire condo complex with access...
JimK - DCSki Columnist
July 26, 2005
Member since 01/14/2004
2,644 posts
I'm ignorant on this subject, but this article provided some background:
http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-1026204.html?tag=fd_lede1_hed
bawalker
July 26, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Lou,

If you could get me the appropriate contact information, I could easily contact the association and offer my abilities and workmanship as a snowboarding network enginer to design and impliment a wireless network plan. It's not just as simple as taking a DSL line and throwing in a wireless box. There are factors such as the speed of the DSL line, do you want to resell service, signal strength at important juncture points inside and outside the buildings, repeater distances and strengths, etc.
Balto
July 26, 2005
Member since 07/26/2005
1 posts
I think there may be two different topics intertwined here: Internet access at SS and wireless Internet access at SS. If the original question was really about wireless connectivity, there are now some hotspots on the mountain that SS has coordinated closely with the National Radio Astronomy Telescope in Green Bank, WV. (I forget where the hotspots are, but there are more than just Starbucks.)

I understand that the special arrangements include restricted power levels, some shielding, a limited number of nodes per access point, and support limited to the original Wi-Fi standard (802.11b for the propeller-heads). The more recent variations of wireless LANs (the "a" and "g" flavors) present more problems for them because one uses a different frequency and both use different signaling which results in stronger signal levels. So yes, there's wireless at SS.

On the other hand, putting in unapproved wireless access points is certainly not appreciated by the NRAO and in some cases, may be illegal. (SS is deep within the National Radio Quiet Zone established by Congress to protect the operations at the observatory.) The NRAO is working feverishly to try to mitigate the effect of Wi-Fi on their research, but it was still an issue for them when I last spoke to them.

If the original question was really whether broadband Internet is available at SS, there's an even better story. All of the village properties, beginning with Rimfire, have included hardwired broadband connections in the rooms, with complimentary service. (In random tests, I've typically gotten multi-megabit data rates, although it fluctuates some with overall mountain activity.) The wired connections aren't as susceptible to congestion when a lot of people are online as wireless service can be, and they're much more secure.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
July 27, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Thanks, bawalker, I am in DC on a project now and will be back in Phila on Friday, will send you the contact for the HOA over the weekend via this website's mail. Again, it has been a headache. Many if not most want to do it, but between the lackadaisical attitude of Adelphia, Frontier, and the fact that the few of us who know anything on the techy side are laypersons, we haven't made any headway. I believe that should we be presented with the facts, most homeowners will go for it. As a matter of fact, we are now in the process of a 2M outside renovation which would be ideal since the old siding has to be taken down to put hardy plank in its place, and it would be ideal if we have to lay cables, etc...
bawalker
July 27, 2005
Member since 12/1/2003
1,547 posts
Lou,

Also keep in mind at what Balto wrote above about SnowShoe being inside the Greenbank Radio area. Before pursuing a project like this, the first information that would be needed by any network tech as well as the homeowners is what are the rules/regulations/policies, etc pertaining to any potential interferrence with the Greenbank satellites.

I mention that because various brands of wireless routers come with different sized antennas which have different gains to them, different power outputs, etc. Even with the Linksys brand wireless routers, you can pickup a larger antenna for the back of it that increases gain, distance, and poweroutput to wireless devices. How that could interfere with Greenbank... I don't really know but taking the precaution ahead of time would be the best way to go.
Scott - DCSki Editor
July 28, 2005
Member since 10/10/1999
1,095 posts
Greenbank interference is a very thorny issue and you do not want to be putting up WiFi base stations unless it is coordinated with and approved by the radio astronomy observatory. Snowshoe is in the "quiet zone." An electric blanket with a bad coil miles away can cause interference with the telescopes; a transmitter can wreak havoc. Observatory officials have equipment to hunt down and find errant signals.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort has worked with the observatory in a number of ways to ensure that the resort is a "good neighbor." Snowshoe has had to make modifications to its mountain radio network (used by ski patrol, etc. to communicate) to get signals "up and over the hill" in a way that doesn't deflect towards the observatory. When Snowshoe built the Sunrise Backcountry Hut, they had to have a way to get a signal from the Hut if its fire sensors went off. Normally a radio signal is used for that, but that wasn't an option due to the observatory (which is in the valley just below the hut). So Snowshoe worked with the observatory to come up with a way to bounce a very narrow cell phone signal in the opposite direction, which gets relayed around and ultimately reaches the fire station.

Before plugging in a WiFi base station, you will definitely want to give the NRAO a call to discuss your plans with them and seek their guidance. It may be that the location of your condos won't cause a problem. But they should be able to help out.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
July 28, 2005
Member since 10/18/1999
1,526 posts
Where does one go seeking the radio emanations information?
Murphy
July 28, 2005
Member since 09/13/2004
618 posts
You might find something here: http://www.gb.nrao.edu/nrqz/nrqz.html
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